General Motors on Tuesday announced a new partnership and pilot program with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. that aims to use electric vehicles to power homes or even the electrical grid. GM’s new EVs support bi-directional charging and can send power back to homes instead of only receiving electricity.
The test program will be in California, PG&E’s home state, which has seen its share of power outages due to overwhelming demand, wildfires, and growing infrastructure. At first, the goal is to allow GM EV owners to power their homes if needed. But, according to CNBC, in the future, PG&E wants to develop an easy-to-use system where one day millions of EVs can help stabilize the grid in an emergency or grid failure.
We saw something similar in 2021 when PG&E partnered with Tesla and its solar roofs, and the utility company already has another agreement with BMW. They’re calling it vehicle-to-home technology, and the plan is to use EVs as a backup power source of sorts. As more EVs hit the streets, this could quickly scale up and fix blackout problems.
PG&E explains that “the pilot will include the use of bidirectional hardware coupled with software-defined communications protocols that will enable power to flow from a charged EV into a customer’s home, automatically coordinating between the EV, home, and PG&E’s electric supply. The pilot will include multiple GM EVs.”
However, we’re not sure how much control EV owners will have, if you can opt-out on days you know you’ll need a full car battery, or how the overall system will work. Will participants get a discount on their power bill for sharing power back to the grid? PG&E wants a seamless communication protocol where everything happens automatically, so owners don’t have to worry about sending or receiving power or having an EV with no juice in the tank.
The test will kick off in the summer of 2022, and GM hopes to expand the pilot later this year. For those wondering, the new Chevy Silverado E comes with a 200 kWh battery, and the average California home uses around 25 kWh per day, meaning your EV truck could keep the lights on for nearly a week if needed.